Italian Greyhound: Everything You Need to Know

Italian Greyhound is the smallest and most temperamental representative of the greyhound clan. Playful, sociable, does not tolerate inattention to her own person.

Italian Greyhound is a mobile and a little reckless “substitute for a cat”, carrying a powerful charge of carelessness and love for a person. With these graceful and incredibly jumpy creatures, it is simply unrealistic to predict where your day will start and how it will end. Maybe it will take place in an atmosphere of pleasant idleness and friendly hugs. Or maybe it will become another holiday of disobedience, filled with surprises and discoveries that you will go over in your memory for more than one month.

The roots of the Italian Greyhound breed, like those of its closest relatives, are to be found in Ancient Egypt. It was in the Nile Valley that the first images of small Greyhounds were discovered, with which the pharaohs and the rest of the Egyptian nobility loved to inhabit their chambers. Gradually, the habitat of animals expanded, and the dogs ended up in Greece, and in the 5th century BC, they were already bred in full in Ancient Rome, as evidenced by the drawings preserved in Pompeii.

During the Renaissance, a real boom began on the ancestors of Italian greyhounds. European monarchs and bohemians kept dogs in dozens, extolling their amazing sensitivity and devotion to man. The Medici dynasty had a particular weakness for animals. There were a lot of legends about the breed, which was then called the Italian Greyhound. In particular, the king of Prussia and concurrently a great lover of Italian greyhounds Frederick the Great argued that if his pet had not shown prudence – that is, did not remain silent – at the moment when the emperor was hiding from his pursuers, the history of the principality would have received a completely different development. It is easy to understand the enthusiasm of the crowned person: Italian greyhounds have never been distinguished by their silence, therefore the fact that the four-legged friend “did not surrender” the king to the enemies is really surprising.

You can also judge the fashion for the breed by the pictures of those times. Titian, Van Dyck, Albrecht Durer, and a whole galaxy of eminent painters and engravers literally did not cope with orders prescribing to immortalize Italian Greyhounds on canvases, on which animals appeared as constant companions of nobles and monarchs. By the 19th century, the hype around the Italian Greyhounds began to subside, which prompted breeders to externalize the exterior of the animals. In attempts to reduce the size of the already small greyhounds, the owners went to extremes, which the English Kennel Club managed to stop only in 1873. At that time, the organization was seriously engaged in the standardization of breeds, and the mini-Italian greyhounds did not fit into the parameters approved by the club.

By the early 20th century, Italian Greyhounds had become rare, unpopular, and rapidly degenerating pets. Only at the turn of the 1920s and 1930s did the animals manage to attract the attention of breeders, who were engaged in the renewal and stabilization of breed qualities. So the gene pool of the Italian greyhounds was replenished with the genes of the Whippet and the Miniature Pinscher. The appearance of small Italian greyhounds in Russia is usually associated with the name of Peter I, who was presented with a four-legged pet. Subsequently, the image of these graceful dogs was successfully replicated by Catherine the Great, but after the 1917 revolution, the number of Italian Greyhounds in our country sharply declined. The interest of domestic breeders in the breed resumed only in the mid-70s when several purebred producers from Italy moved to Soviet nurseries.

Famous Italian greyhound owners:

  • Cleopatra;
  • Julius Caesar;
  • Frederick II;
  • Queen Victoria;
  • Sigourney Weaver;
  • Vladimir Sorokin;
  • Ilona Bronevitskaya.

The Italian greyhound is a graceful aristocrat who has retained the exquisite refinement of the silhouette of her ancestor, the Greyhound. Like any greyhound, the Italian greyhound is distinguished by a certain ascetic figure. At the same time, it is a rather muscular and playful dog, capable of developing a decent speed in pursuit.

The flat, narrow head of the Italian greyhound is distinguished by well-protruding superciliary arches and poorly traced feet and nape. The dog’s muzzle is like a fox, pointed.

The jaws of the Italian greyhound are characterized by an elongated shape and a scissor bite. The teeth are strong, the incisors are crown-shaped.

The nostrils are wide, well open. The nose is dark, ideally black.

Rounded eyes of Italian greyhounds, bordered by black eyelids, not too deeply set, but not protruding either. The preferred color of the iris is dark brown.

Italian greyhounds have very miniature, raised, and bent back ears with thin cartilage. If something has caught the dog’s attention, the base of the cartilage rises vertically, and the canvas itself is pulled to the side (the so-called “flying ears”).

The muscular, tapered necks of the Italian Greyhounds have a steep curve and a sharp angle to the withers. At the throat, the neck is slightly curved, while the skin is taut and does not form folds.

The bodies of the Italian greyhounds tend to be square in shape. All breed individuals have a straight back with a slight bend in the lumbar region, a wide croup and a narrow, strong chest lowered to the level of the elbows.

Forelegs of Italian Greyhounds are rather dry, set strictly vertically. The shoulder blades are distinguished by moderately developed muscles and a barely noticeable slope. Elbows without obvious eversion to either side, metacarpus dry, slightly tilted. The hind legs of the dogs are straight and comparatively graceful. The thighs look pronouncedly elongated, the lower legs are strongly inclined, the metatarsus is parallel to each other. The feet of small Italian greyhounds are almost oval in shape (the hind ones are more rounded), with well-arched toes and small pads.

The tail of the Italian greyhound, thin along its entire length, is set low and covered with short silky hair. At the base, the tail is straight, but as it approaches the tip, a distinct bend appears.

The coat of the Italian greyhound is ultra-short, not rough, evenly covering all parts of the body.

The basic color types for Italian greyhounds are solid gray, beige (Isabella), and black. All shades of the listed colors are also acceptable.

Disqualifying vices:

  • Partial or complete depigmentation of the lobe.
  • Convergence or divergence of the axes of the skull and muzzle.
  • The tail raised above the back.
  • The bridge of the nose is humped or concave.
  • Congenital malocclusion.
  • Light skin of the eyelids.
  • Tail too short (tip above the hock).
  • Unremoved dewclaws.
  • Irregular color (white areas under the throat and on the feet are acceptable).
  • Insufficient (less than 32 cm) or excessive (over 38 cm) growth.

Like representatives of other breeds, Italian Greyhounds are disqualified for behavioral deviations. For example, if the dog growls at the members of the commission or runs away at full speed in an attempt to hide.

By the type of temperament, Italian Greyhounds are pronounced choleric: easily excitable, impetuous, hyperemotional. Bringing an Italian greyhound into the house, you will have to part with the dream of personal space and weekends at the TV. The overwhelming majority of these smart girls do not agree to put up with the silence and aloofness of the owner, since the meaning of life for Italian greyhounds is continuous contact with a person and a little hunting. Have you already got scared of such a phenomenal obsession? And completely in vain, because the little Italian greyhounds are too smart to hang on your hands for hours.

Don’t be fooled by the breed’s outward aristocracy. Like any hound, the Italian Greyhound loves to play pranks on a grand scale. Chewed Louboutins and a gutted handbag, wallpaper with designer claw stripes and a hair-tie worn to the point of a washcloth – this is not a complete list of the daily feats of the Italian greyhound. In addition, you will have to take into account the fact that psychologically dogs grow up slowly. For example, females exhibit puppy behavior for up to a year, while males remain children up to two years of age.

Surprisingly, but temperament and heightened emotionality do not prevent Italian Greyhounds from making friends. In particular, Italian greyhounds are very fond of children and willingly make contact with them. They do not see competitors in cats and other dogs with which they were brought up together. But the loyalty of the animal does not extend to small animals like rodents and birds – the hunting predilections of their ancestors are triggered.

Favorite places for the Italian greyhounds to be stationed in the apartment are any horizontal elevations, including chairs, window sills, and bedside tables, that is, all those cozy areas that, by definition, are assigned to cats and to which the dog will be able to jump. And she almost always succeeds. These elegant “Italians” do not hesitate to look under the master’s blanket if the apartment suddenly gets colder. Separately, it should be said about the “voice” of the breed. Squealing and barking is as natural for Italian greyhounds as it is for humans to talk, so do not even try to restrain such impulses: the dogs will not understand you.

In studies, Italian greyhounds do not show much zeal. Possessing a tenacious inquiring mind, these graceful minions of fate are sincerely perplexed: why force yourself to do something, if you can just get a thrill from life and communication with your beloved owner? In the first weeks after the puppy moves to a new home, set boundaries and establish your own authority. Believe me, Italian Greyhounds are able not only to break your millimeter but also to let any training course go down the drain.

Experiencing the owner’s patience and perseverance is a favorite pastime for teenage puppies. Run a command on demand for a treat? No, Italian greyhounds don’t give up so easily. First, you need to ignore the owner’s requests ten times, then do about the same number of small dirty tricks (for example, go past the tray), and only after all the tricks, you can try to meet the person halfway. Unless, of course, by that time he had cursed everything in the world and had not given up training forever.

In everyday life, Italian greyhounds are no less terrible manipulators, for whom any exceptions are contraindicated. Want to raise a cheeky little beggar? Treat the ward with a bite from your plate. Congratulations, you passed the test for spinelessness in the eyes of your pet. Now, sitting down at the table, you will observe nearby the Italian greyhound screeching with impatience, demanding its portion of the delicacy. At the same time, it is quite possible to accustom a dog to order without signing with violence and unfair restrictions. Standard greyhound training courses are suitable for this.

In addition to the traditional OKD, Italian greyhounds can be carried away by sports disciplines: small Italian greyhounds are crazy about coursing, but in the absence of the opportunity to chase an electronic hare, agility will also do. However, fans of the breed argue that it is almost impossible to find two Italian greyhounds with the same preferences and personalities, so choosing a sport for each Greyhound will have to be a trial and error method, with an eye to the individual interests of the pet.

The behavior of the Italian greyhound in the house is the behavior of the average cat. For example, there is no greater happiness for an animal than to dive under the covers to its own owner and quietly snooze inside this makeshift house. If there is no opportunity to occupy the master’s bed, the Italian Greyhound will sit on the windowsill, closely watching what is happening in the yard, or lie on the armrests of the chairs. Of course, like any decorative dog, the Italian greyhound needs a personal corner with a cozy basket, or better, a mini-cottage. True, you will see a pet in its shelter for half an hour or an hour a day, because the rest of the time the animal will spend outside of it.

A curious Italian greyhound is an incorrect Italian greyhound – this is an axiom that does not require proof. Poke his nose wherever possible, the dog will always be, which does not mean its bad manners. Do not forget that the great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers of the miniature caprice were ordinary hunters, for whom curiosity was a full-fledged working quality. It will not work to wean the animal from the habit of climbing were not asked, therefore, there are only two ways out: not to lose vigilance 24 hours a day, completely taking the pet “under the hood”, or not to start an Italian greyhound at all.

Separately, it should be said about toys for dogs, without which greyhounds cannot do without. Usually, little greyhounds get indescribable delight with silicone balls and squeaks. But if the pet catches a teddy bear or something smaller, but just as soft, he will fall into real ecstasy, from which he will get out only after thoroughly gutting the toy. Well, a little about the toilet: Italian greyhounds can learn how to go to the tray or the newspaper, but goodies in this regard will not always be good. It is necessary to be mentally prepared for sudden “heaps” and “puddles”.

Typically, grooming Italian greyhounds is limited to weekly brushing and bathing every 10-12 days using a short-haired pet shampoo. By the way, even those greyhounds who neglect regular baths do not smell like a dog at all. With the eyes of a dog, there are also few worries. The standard prevention of mucosal acidification is enough, that is, rubbing the eyes with a cloth soaked in cooled tea or chamomile infusion. However, if the inside of the eyelid has acquired a reddish tint, and the eye looks swollen, herbal decoctions are not helpful here. Moreover, experiments with natural medicines can end badly for the eyesight if the visit to the vet is delayed for some reason.

Like many lapdogs, the claws of the Italian greyhounds do not grind, so once a month the pet will have to arrange a “pedicure” session – a nail clipper for small breeds and a file for grinding to help. It is better to clean the mouth once a week so as not to accumulate plaque on the teeth. Do not expect much joy from the animal in the process, but individuals who are accustomed to the procedure from early childhood are usually allowed to finish what they have begun. The main thing is to find a nozzle suitable for a miniature Italian greyhound mouth. If one is not found, an ordinary children’s toothbrush will do. Inspection of the ears of an Italian Greyhound is not the most pleasant job, but it is necessary. Unroll the ear canal every seven days and look into the ear canal. If dirt and wax are visible inside, wipe them off with a damp cotton pad or use veterinary lotion.

The Italian greyhound, though small, is nevertheless a greyhound, so for a normal state of health, she needs to “come off” somewhere every day. If you did not work out with coursing and agility, compensate the animal for the lack of sport by intensive walking. Just remember to dress your pet in overalls and blankets in cold weather. The Italian greyhound, shaking from an overabundance of emotions and cold, is both comical and pitiful at the same time. However, even if you manage to get the ward out of the entrance into damp, chilly weather, he will dive back into the apartment in a minute. Italian Greyhounds absolutely cannot stand bad weather, and even the most interesting walk will not make them refuse the opportunity to take a nap in warm and dry weather.

It is important to understand that for the Italian greyhound the street is like a fascinating series for a person: it is so addictive that it is impossible to tear yourself away. Breathing fresh air into his lungs, the four-footed merry fellow immediately switches his attention to external stimuli, and the owner’s requirements in the list of dog preferences are in the penultimate place. In the city, dog handlers do not recommend letting the Italian greyhound off the leash at all. Firstly, driven by hunting instincts, they can hide from sight if they saw a pigeon or a mouse on the horizon. And secondly, Italian Greyhounds are very greedy for food, so they pick up any strongly smelling piece from the ground, no matter how much you shout “Fu!”.

But with Italian greyhounds, it’s great to go on a picnic and fishing. Once in the wild, dogs first get a little dazed with happiness, after which they begin to practice hunting. Do not be surprised if one day a pretty crumpled, long-eared creature is dragged to your fire. In some individuals, hunting skills are so strong that they can catch small games without prior training.

All Italian greyhounds are desperate party girls, so having stumbled upon a dog get-together during a walk, your ward will certainly express a desire to communicate with its participants. Do not frantically pull the animal by the leash, trying to save it from the wrath of human four-footed friends. Little greyhounds know what the collective hierarchy is and never ask for trouble.

Italian greyhounds, despite their slender build, are classic meat-eaters, but this does not mean that they need to be fed with tenderloin and marbled beef. Italian Greyhounds do not see a significant difference between the elite meats and the obvious substandard. Moreover, sinewy, windy lumps stuffed with cartilaginous tissue are even more useful for them than a fresh product. Boiled beef tripe, boneless sea fish, oatmeal, buckwheat, and rice porridge supplement the “meat diet” of Italian greyhounds – in general, everything that is in other breeds. Fruits and vegetables are introduced into the diet of dogs gradually so as not to provoke an allergic reaction. They are usually given raw in the form of a salad or shavings seasoned with vegetable oil.

Feeding Italian greyhounds with industrial food is a fairly common diet, the main advantage of which is balance. If animals eat high-quality “drying”, they do not need vitamin supplements. In the case of “natural”, this option is not suitable, and you will have to spend money on mineral supplements.

The diminutiveness of the Italian Greyhounds suggests that the breed is fragile and painful. In fact, small Italian greyhounds are extremely hardy and strong dogs, although not devoid of genetic ailments. For example, they have a hereditary predisposition to Perthes disease (joint disease) and epilepsy. Well, as a rule, Italian greyhounds retire with an incomplete set of teeth and age-related eye problems, including juvenile cataracts, glaucoma, corneal dystrophy, and retinal atrophy.

How to choose a puppy?

  • If an Italian greyhound already lives at home and you want to find her company, choose a puppy of the same gender as your pet.
  • Italian greyhound males are more open and agreeable. But the “girls” are great intriguers and obvious leaders, who know how to crush any, even a large dog. By the way, females of Italian Greyhounds, like “boys”, can also mark territory.
  • If a show career is planned for a pet, it is worth finding out how successful his parents were in this matter. Nobody canceled heredity.
  • Look into the mouth of the Italian greyhound puppy that the owner has prepared for sale. A normally developing baby should have six incisors on both jaws by the age of two months.
  • Healthy puppies should not have a hint of a hernia. The ideal belly button size for a one-and-a-half-month-old animal is about half a pea.
  • Small Italian greyhound puppies are distributed from one and a half months to adolescence. A teenage Italian greyhound will cost more, since the older the dog is, the more clearly its exterior potential is visible. But raising older puppies is more difficult, especially if the breeder did not bother instilling in the dogs the elementary foundations of etiquette.
  • In order not to miss at the start, periodically ask the breeder to visit under the pretext of “see how the reserved baby lives.” This will make it easier to assess the atmosphere in the nursery and the sanitary conditions.
Alice White

Written by Alice White

Alice White, a devoted pet lover and writer, has turned her boundless affection for animals into a fulfilling career. Originally dreaming of wildlife, her limited scientific background led her to specialize in animal literature. Now she happily spends her days researching and writing about various creatures, living her dream.

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